French Macarons – Chocolate with Espresso Buttercream

Oh the French Macaron. Such a cute little cookie that scares the crap out of most bakers… When Megan from Delicious Dishings and I decided to bake together a couple weeks ago, we each chose a recipe that we wanted to try. Megan chose the delicious chocolate hazelnut baklava and I chose French Macarons.

I had read online that macarons aren’t as intimidating as everyone says. And since I’ve been tackling kitchen challenges for a while now, I figured two baking enthusiasts like myself and Megan could handle it. When I told Megan what I wanted to do, she shared that she had tried making them and it hadn’t gone so well. That definitely didn’t instill a lot of confidence, but I stayed optimistic.

Megan just happened to have a recipe from Joanne Chang that is currently featured on the Fine Cooking website. Check out her video – I love hearing the word “macaron” pronounced WAY more correctly than I can do it. We decided to make two batches of macarons so that we could mix up some of the flavor combos. Today, I’m featuring the chocolate macarons with espresso buttercream. Be sure to check back tomorrow to hear about the second batch.

In preparation for our big day of baking, Megan and I did plenty of research on macarons. We read tons of articles online and I have to admit, I started to notice them in quite a few blogs I read. The stars were aligning for us!

Even the day of, after doing all of our research, we still read the recipe a couple times each before making them. We used a timer to time the various steps. I think if you made these on a regular basis, you’d get more of a feel for what to expect, but like I said, we were both nervous about how they’d turn out.

As you can see from the photos, our macarons had feet!! We were both very excited to see them. I’m not going to lie, I actually had never tried a macaron before baking them that day at Megan’s place. And I’m glad we made them because they’re really tasty! They have a crisp outter shell with a softer more delicate texture on the inside. If you are like I was, and think macarons are intimidating, I highly recommend making them!

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Chocolate Macarons with Espresso Buttercream

Yield: 30

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Macarons
1 cup (100 grams) almond flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) confectioners' sugar
4 egg whites (120 grams), at room temperature and at least a day old
4 tablespoons (50 grams) sugar

For the Espresso Buttercream
3 egg whites (90 grams)
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
12 tablespoons (168 grams, 1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 6-8 pieces
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

For the Chocolate Macarons
Line a clean, flat cookie sheet with a Silpat, and set it aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in middle of oven.

Sift together almond flour, cocoa powder, and confectioners' sugar, and set aside.

In a spotlessly clean stand mixer bowl, whip whites on medium speed until they are foamy and you can start to see the tines of the whip leaving a trail in the whites, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, and continue to whip for about 30 to 45 seconds. Add another tablespoon of sugar, and whip again for another 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat with the third and fourth tablespoons of sugar.

When all of the sugar is mixed in, whip the whites for about another minute or two until they become glossy and shiny. Remove from mixer.

Fold in about half of the almond flour/confectioners' sugar mix; when most of it is folded in, add the rest of the dry mix. Fold until mixture is smooth and a little stiff -- it should drop smoothly off of the spatula.

Using a piping bag and a small round tip, pipe out small rounds of macaron batter about 1 inch in diameter. Try to pipe straight down and quickly pull away when you are done to minimize peaks. Pipe until you’ve used up all the batter.

Rap the cookie sheet several times to flatten out the mounds and to pop any bubbles that might be in the batter.

Let cookies rest for about 15 to 30 minutes, until they are no longer tacky to the touch.

Place in oven, and immediately turn oven down to 300 degrees. After 8 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet. Depending upon your oven, cookies take from 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool.

Remove the meringues from the parchment and pair them by size.

For the Espresso Buttercream
In a small metal or other heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites to make a thick slurry.

Place the bowl over (not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat, whisking occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is hot to the touch. It will thin out a bit as the sugar melts.

Remove from the heat and scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue and is cool to the touch.

Turn down the speed to low and add the chunks of butter one at a time. The mixture will look curdled at first, but don’t worry. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 to 4 minutes until the buttercream is smooth. Add the espresso and salt.

Buttercream may be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Remove from fridge about 3 to 4 hours before using, and using the paddle attachment of the mixer, paddle the buttercream until it becomes smooth enough to use.

Fill the cookies
Using a piping bag with the same tip used to pipe the cookies, pipe 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of the filling onto half of the cookies—you want to use just enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. The cookies are best the day they’re made, but you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

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13 Responses to “Alton Brown’s “The Chewy””

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    1
    Bridget — March 5, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Aren’t they the best? They’re so addicting. I’ve actually starting using the same ingredients, but mixing them like a more traditional chocolate chip cookie (i.e., softened butter instead of melted), because I like the dough better with softened butter. The baked cookies were just as good. Best of both worlds!

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    Laure — March 5, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    These look gorgeous. Don’t you just love AB??? 🙂

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    3
    Julie — March 6, 2009 at 4:06 am

    The cookies look great. I love AB too..he’s such a dork (in a good way).

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    CoCo — March 6, 2009 at 5:50 am

    I love the ATK/CI Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. I will have to try these to see what I think. I remember seeing that the recipes looked similar so I am sure I will love them.
    Another AB lover here. My husband gives me a hard time about my DVR list with him but loves it when I give him a fun tidbit or cook him something from AB.

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    5
    Jen — March 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I completely agree CoCo. Hubby does the same thing. I sometimes even watch episodes I’ve seen before! Hubby doesn’t like to admit it, but he loves AB too. Sometimes he’ll be the one saying “AB says to do this…”

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    foodess — March 9, 2009 at 3:38 am

    They look SO good!! I am a sucker for a chewy chocolate chip cookie. Although, I must side with your hubby – I prefer mine with just a bit of chocolate.

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    Naomi — March 9, 2009 at 6:46 am

    How much is a stick of butter? I’m not in the US and have never come across this measurement before.

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    Jen — March 9, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Sorry about that Naomi – 1 stick of butter = 8 Tbsp. Does that help?

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    Dani — March 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

    this is very similar to the ccc recipe i use, but anything that makes it chewier is good in my books! i will have to keep this one in mind 🙂

  10. #
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    Naomi — March 13, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Yes Jen, thank you!

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    Allie — June 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Yum! I will definitely be trying these. I always chill my cookie dough too usually because I’m too busy with 3 little ones but I also read that article in the NY times awhile ago and I felt like I deserved a nice big pat on the back for always doing the 24hour chill 🙂 Great post and beautiful cookies!

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    Susan — June 23, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    I love Alton Brown because of his scientific approach to cooking and baking. I’ve been baking “The Chewy” for years. One thing I do differently: Before chilling the dough, I scoop it into balls. This makes the process much easier. Sometimes I freeze the balls for baking later. After I place the balls on parchment, I carefully place a few extra chocolate morsels on top, pointy side up. This extra step produces picture-perfect cookies every time.

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    Desiree — July 2, 2016 at 1:56 am

    The Chewy is my go to recipe for cookies. I make a few alterations, occasionally, such as substituting 1/4 of the brown sugar with dark brown sugar. I bake small portions in mini muffin tins; one batch makes 48 cookie bites that are super chewy and the perfect size bite. I’ve made them every year for Christmas gifts for a few years now.

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